2013
Mar 15

Spring and Southwest Style Stuffed Peppers

by Hannah Holt »

25 comments


Next Wednesday may be the first day of spring, but I can already feel the turn of the season in the air. The trees on our street are budding. It had me in the mood to write something springy.

NATURE’S ALARM

When prayers of birds sound in the air,
and crocuses play double-dare —
a splash of purple through the ice —
the loosened stream says, “Ah, that’s nice.”
When bees and beetles start to sing,
wake up, Bear! It’s time for spring.

 crocuses in ice

Speaking of alarms, I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner the other night when a bell went off in my head. At the time I was staring at four red bell peppers, trying to figure out how to conjure them into dinner. Stuffed peppers seemed like the obvious choice, but I’ve never been a fan of meat and rice slathered in pasta sauce. Then I thought, why not substitute the meat for beans and corn and change the pasta sauce into taco seasoning. Suddenly stuffed peppers sounded delicious.

They were good. And besides the yum factor, I also liked it because the kids could easily help with the preparation.

Vegetarian Southwest Style Stuffed Peppers

southwest stuffed peppers

Ingredients:

  • four large red bell peppers
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 15oz can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup salsa (you choose your spice level)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 Tbl lime juice
  • 1 Tbl chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin

1. Preheat the oven to 375º F.

2. Remove the stems and membranes from the peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Place them face size up in an ungreased 9×13 inch glass dish or casserole pan, like so…

IMG_7507

3. Set one cup of cheese off to the side. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a big bowl. (Go ahead and let the kids just dump them all in and stir!)

IMG_7506

Note: I didn’t think the mix needed any salt or pepper, but now would be a good time to check that this is seasoned to taste.

4. Fill the peppers with the stuffing and top with the remaining cheese.

IMG_7510

5. Cover the peppers tightly with foil (or the casserole dish lid) and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

6. Once the peppers are tender, uncover the peppers and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the cheese on top is nice and bubbly.

southwest stuffed peppers1

Bell peppers really make for an excellent taco. Yum!

 


2013
Feb 06

Hedgehog Snack

by Hannah Holt »

4 comments


Today, I have a snack you can whip up in less than a minute. It’s the Peanut Butter Hedgehog Snack:

What you’ll need:

  • A tablespoon of peanut butter
  • A handful of stick pretzels
  • Three raisins

Place a dollop of peanut butter on a plate. Balance a few pretzels in the peanut butter (you might want to break the pretzels in half). Don’t forget to put two pretzels along the sides for legs. Use raisins to form the eyes and nose. Ta da! You’re done. Consider serving it with a side of sliced apples for added healthy deliciousness.

In the next few weeks, I have a bunch of upcoming posts that I’m super excited about, including:

  • Another round of paper dolls
  • Ideas for an aviation themed birthday party
  • A post that’s so top secret I can’t tell you about it…

Don’t want to miss a post? Follow along on Facebook or Pinterest.


2013
Jan 21

Yin Yang Cake

by Hannah Holt »

16 comments


Two years ago, twin girls joined our family.

Now my wee girls are busy toddlers.

On the outside, my girls are mirror copies of each other. They look so much alike that they still don’t “know” their own names (People are always mixing them up, so they get a lot of name confusion.)

However, they don’t need to know their names to know who they are. They’ve always had distinct personalities. One of my twins likes to walk around the house with me, chatting away in her half-speak. My other girl prefers to sit and look at the pictures in books. Give her a chunky puzzle and she’ll be entertained for most the morning. Of course both my girls love being read to, played with, and taken on walks. But watch them for more than thirty seconds, and it’s not difficult to figure out who is who.

If having twins has taught me anything, it’s this– genes may shape a person, but they don’t make one.

So for their second birthday, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make them separate cakes or one cake. I mean, two cakes is a lot of cake! In the end, I decided to make two separate but connected cakes. I call it the yin yang cake:

1. I took this recipe for marble cake, but instead of marbling it, I poured the chocolate and vanilla batter into separate nine-inch cake pans. I also adjusted the baking time from 50 minutes to 25 minutes.

2. After the cakes cooled on a wire rack, I cut each cake into the yin-yang shape. I did this by tracing the bottom of the cake pan onto paper, folding the paper in half, and making sure my yin and yang signs were well balanced.

3. I made one batch of vanilla butter cream frosting, divided it into two bowls, and mixed 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa into one bowl of frosting. I ended up with one bowl of vanilla frosting and one bowl of chocolate frosting. I stacked and frosted each side of the cake separately.

4. Then I brought the two cakes together (using spatulas) to have one yin yang cake.

It’s a cake with something for everyone. You could have a slice of vanilla cake or a slice of chocolate cake… or a little of both!

 

 


2013
Jan 05

Pirate Party, Aaarg!

by Hannah Holt »

14 comments


My oldest recently celebrated his golden birthday. He was really excited about the “golden” part. Perhaps I let him get a little too carried away with birthday madness, or maybe I got carried away myself.

But whatever the case, I helped him plan a pirate themed birthday, and it was a lot of fun. Maybe every other year I’ll let him do something like this.

First I let him design his own invitations:

I helped him pick out fonts and colors, but not bad for a seven-year-old, eh?

Then we went to the party supply store, where I accidentally left my budget in the car.

But our games were cheap. We had a pirate obstacle course that included walking the plank [couch], climbing up the crows nest [stairs], going under a pirate cave [the table], and hopping across rocks.

We also had a treasure hunt leading to gold [of the chocolate variety].

We topped off the evening with a pirate ship cake:

Here’s how I made it:

1) A few days before the party, I preprepared two 9×13 inch cakes, wrapped the cooled cakes in plastic wrap, and placed them in the freezer. Freezing cakes doesn’t affect the texture, and it makes them easier to carve. I used this recipe for chocolate cake.

2) The day of the party I placed one of the unwrapped but frozen cakes on a bread board lined with aluminum foil. Then I frosted the top of that cake with butter cream frosting, and topped it with the remaining cake.

3) I used a cardboard cut out as a guide for cutting the boat shape.

4) I used some of the extra pieces of cake to build up the front and back of the ship, like this:

5) Next I tapered the sides of the cake to more resemble a boat.

6) I frosted the outside of the cake in no-cook fudge frosting, added dried butter cream details*, and topped it with a pirate action figure. Fondant would have made a more elegant finish, but I can’t stand the taste of fondant.

7) Finally I rammed three small dowels through the cake and prayed that they would stay up. They did. So I made a few black sails out of construction paper and called it good. {I removed the sails and masts before lighting the candles.}

*This is how you can make dried butter cream details. In hind site, royal icing details would have been easier to work with, but my butter cream details held up.
1) Draw the designs you want {I made porthole windows}, on wax paper. Then make a batch of butter cream frosting.
2) Pipe the frosting onto the designs and let it set for at least a day but preferably two.

3) Using a knife, carefully transfer the dried butter cream details onto the freshly frosted cake.


2012
Dec 12

Parties, Persimmons, and Ginger Squares

by Hannah Holt »

38 comments


Today is one of those fun dates: 12/12/12. It’s even more special for me because I recently turned a score and a dozen years old.

I love birthdays. Well, mostly I love cake. This week I ate plenty of cake, and now I’m in a plenty good mood. Here are some of the highlights from my week:

  • I finished Julie Hedlunds 12×12 challenge.
  • Just over a week ago, I finished Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo challenge.
  • The persimmon tree in my backyard is starting to come into season.
  • Six happy little persimmons were turned into this recipe for cake by Emiko Davies.
  • My cute husband also turned another year older, and later this week we will celebrate our nine year anniversary.
  • My oldest turned seven. I have a seven-year-old!
  • I found my first grey hair, but let’s call it silver.

December is in full swing and that means it’s time to make one of my favorite snacks of the year– ginger squares. It’s basically a recipe for gingerbread people but cut it into squares (and I use whole-wheat flour to feel less guilty about eating them by the fistful).

Ginger Squares

  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cloves (optional)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups wheat flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

  2. Beat butter and sugar together for two minutes

  3. Add the molasses and eggs, and beat until well combined (it will look a little grainy; that’s okay).

  4. Add the spices to the wet mixture, then the baking soda, and finally the flour. You don’t need to combine the dry ingredients together first. Just add them one at a time to the wet mixture. (I almost never use two bowls when making cookies.)

  5. Mix until combined, and then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for one hour. The dough will be too sticky to handle if you don’t chill it first.

  6. Roll the dough out on a cutting board until it’s about the thickness of two nickles.

  7. Slice the dough into one-inch squares using a pizza cutter (or sharp knife).

  8. Place the squares at least ¼ inch apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 6-9 minutes. Six minutes will yield a very soft square, while 9 minutes will result in a crunchier cookie. Actual oven temperatures vary. Adjust the time as needed for desired texture.